I want to take a moment and share why I consider myself to be a hippie mommy. And I think it appropriate to start at my “graduation date” aka the day my daughter was born! And speaking of appropriate, seven years ago TODAY, was the day it all happened!
When I was pregnant, I wanted to have a natural birth. I was reading several pregnancy books and I stumbled across the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (http://www.bradleybirth.com/). I’m going to pause and say that finding Bradley changed my life. Big statement, I know, but it was really the start of a new perspective on pregnancy, birth, and all things parenting. The Bradley Method was a 12 week course and it made me realize that natural birth is nothing to take lightly. As my instructor put it, you don’t decide to run a marathon and just buy the shoes, go for a couple runs, and then run the whole race. You train! You prepare yourself. Bradley was that preparation. It educated me and daddy to really know what to expect during labor and delivery. What was going on, and how to best adapt to the current situation.
When we first sat with our instructor, she asked where we were planning for me to give birth. We told her at a local hospital. She said ok, but just keep your minds open because after you learn what you are going to learn, you may change your choice. Ok, well you know, you never know what will happen so to play it safe we’d feel more comfortable at a hospital. We continue our classes and learn of all the things we do and don’t want as part of my birth. We write a birth plan. It includes things like no continuous electronic fetal monitoring, no internal checks every hour, no pitosin, no episiotomy. I also wanted a water birth, and the hospital had a bathtub in the room, but you can’t go in it after your water breaks. You know, when you need it most, but anyways, risk of infection and all that. We sit with our ObGyn to let him know all the things we do and don’t want and he very kindly explains that for mommy and baby’s safety, they can’t honor those wishes because their top priority is making sure everyone is safe and that’s just what they need to do. Hmm, well now we knew enough to know that, in a healthy pregnancy, that’s just not necessarily true.
So we decided to go tour a birthing center, just to compare. Every point that we said “we want to do this” the answer was “sure, no problem”. I mean, within reason. If it comes down to a true emergency, they will do whatever they need to do to make sure everyone is safe. But they respected the kind of birth I wanted to have and were able to provide that experience for me. I want to save my whole birthing story for another post (spoiler alert, perfectly healthy baby born in a birthing center, and I am SO glad that we made the switch!) But suffice to say, choosing a birthing center was totally the first flower in my hippie crown.
During our Bradley classes, our instructor also talked to us about co-sleeping, babywearing, Elimination Communication, amber teething necklaces and Baby-Led Weaning. See why she changed my life? Again, stay tuned for blog posts on each of those practices, but it was so eye-opening to even know these things were out there! I did each of these things with my daughter and each one brought us closer together and more in touch with each other.
Something I loved about Dr. Bradley is that he grew up on a farm. He watched animals do their thing when it came time to give birth. Fast forward and he becomes a doctor and watches how “modern” women give birth in a hospital. There was a huge disconnect in these two birthing ways! Yes science and medicine have come a long way and no I have no desire to crawl into a barn and give birth in a pile of hay. But there IS a lot of wisdom in nature and I think the closer we can get to the way things are naturally done, the better off we are.
I think trusting our instincts goes a long way too. When your baby cries, it sucks. When you pick them up and comfort them, it feels awesome. Their soft little skin on your face as you give them kisses and cuddles feels great. Then a study comes out saying it actually is scientifically proven that there are therapeutic benefits of touch! But you didn’t need a published article to tell you that. Follow your instincts, in your gut and your heart it feels right.
There are lots of mainstream parenting practices that are really easy to just do because it’s what you do. I mean look at any baby shower decorations and you’ll see cute pictures of baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers… all of these are actually optional. There is so much room for reducing waste and using natural products. This of course spins out beyond parenting into everyday life. Now that my daughter is older, it’s not about the baby stuff. It’s about composting, recycling and reducing waste wherever we can. It’s about spending less time indoors and more time outdoors. It’s about eating clean and remembering to stretch. I do still live in an All-American suburb and drive an SUV. But I do try to turn off the AC and open the windows when I can. It’s all about balance and striving to do just a little bit more every day.
So that’s my origin story, so to speak. As I go on, I’ll share my experience with each of these practices in more detail and I hope to inspire you to trust your instincts, live a little greener, and celebrate your inner hippie.